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Sacred Number

17 16 eighT a pair of squares Eight is two times two times two, and as such is the first cubic number after one. As the number of vertices of a cube or faces of its dual, the octahedron, eight is complete. At the molecular level this is displayed by atoms, which long to have a full octave of eight electrons in their outermost shell. A sulfur atom has six electrons in its outermost shell, so eight atoms get together to share electrons, forming an octagonal sulphur ring. Within architecture the octagon often signifies the transition between Heaven and Earth, as a bridge between the square and the circle. A spherical dome often surmounts a cubic structure by way of a beautiful octagonal vault. Eight is particularly revered in the religion and mythology of the orient. The ancient Chinese oracle, the IChing, is based on combinations of eight trigrams, each the result of a twofold choice made three times. Depicted opposite is the Former Heaven Sequence, said to represent the ideal pattern of trans formations in the cosmos. Note how each trigram is the complement of its opposite. In religious symbolism, the eighth step is often associated with spiritual evolution or salvation. This may result from the fact that in a seventone scale the eighth note is the octave, twice the pitch of the first note, and so signals the movement to a new level. In the modern world, computers think in delightful units called bytes, each made of eight binary bits. All spiders have eight legs and all octopi have eight tentacles.
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